Thursday, May 26, 2016

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 23 - Schism

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


With HIVE's master-plan foiled, Damien Darhk risks a direct assault on Team Arrow, stealing the laptop holding Rubicon in check and assaulting The Bunker. As Felicity and Curtis work to redirect the nuclear missile heading straight for Star City, Oliver Queen will have to draw upon a new-found power of his own to counter Darhk's death magic and save the world!


Green Arrow: Year One (the Lian Yu segments), Green Arrow: City Walls (Green Arrow fighting a magically-empowered villain by rallying the people of a city behind him), the film Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (centered around a doomsday device similar to Rubicon that could launch multiple nuclear missiles at once), the Spider-Man movies of Sam Raimi (the scene where a group of ordinary people show up to save the hero from the super-villain or support him after he nearly dies saving them.), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (ARGUS taking custody of the idol and disappearing it into storage) and Green Arrow: One Year Later (Oliver Queen becoming Mayor of Star City following a super-villain attack).


Felicity says that Warren Air Force Base is in Colorado. That may be the case in the DCTVU, but in our world it is located in Wyoming, though it is close to the Colorado/Wyoming border.

Where does Curtis go to in the final part of the show after Darhk is defeated?

All of the talk about Laurel being merciful and not wanting her murderer to die directly contradicts everything we've seen about Laurel's character throughout the show's history. In Season Two, she was ready to see The Arrow shot dead by a SWAT team when she was blaming him for Tommy's death. In Season Three, the only reason she didn't kill the assassin she thought killed her sister was because she never checked to see if the gun she stole from the Arrow Cave was loaded. And for all of the talk about how she believed in law and order, she routinely abused the authority of her office and subverted rules and promises when it suited her to do so. Hopefully we'll get less of this white-washing in Season Five.


This may be Stephen Amell's finest hour yet as Oliver Queen.  When he is speaking to the people of his town begging them to stop writing and when he later confronts Darhk before an angry mob ready to take back their city from the man wanted to destroy it, he IS the fat-cat bashing champion of the people from the comics.

Honestly, the entire cast bring their A-game to this episode and everyone has at least one amazing moment.


The special effects during the sequence in which Darhk contains one of Oliver's exploding arrows are of cinematic quality.

The fight scene in The Bunker between Team Arrow and the ghosts is one of the best in the show's already impressive history.

The fight scene between the HIVE ghosts and the mob of Star City citizens is probably the largest one in the show's history and is well-shot and choreographed.

The final scene as Ollie is sworn into office and we see all of the team parting ways is a wonderful bit of direction and editing, with a powerful music score.


Instead of the usual "My name is Oliver Queen." introduction, the episode opens with a recap of the major events of Season Four.

Sara is briefly mentioned as being at an ARGUS safe house in Coast City. Coast City, in the DC Comics Universe, is a city in California and home town to the Green Lantern Hal Jordan.

After Baron Reiter's idol is claimed by ARGUS, Amanda Waller commands it to be transported to The Slab. In the DC Comics Universe, The Slab is a maximum security prison for metahumans. Originally located in New Jersey, it was relocated to Antarctica following the events of the story Joker's Last Laugh.


Darhk's attack on Curtis leaves him with possible internal bleeding, cracked ribs and a hemothorax. This has to be treated by an immediate release of pressure.

The runes on Baron Reiter's arm prevent the power of the idol from overwhelming his mind.

Rubicon launches 15,434 nuclear missiles.

It takes 45 minutes for a Minuteman ICBM to travel from Warren Air Force Base to Star City.

Curtis suggests, when Felicity is unable to remotely hack the ICBM aimed at Star City, to use a line-of-sight attack on the missile to disarm it once it is close enough.

Nukes are designed to detonate 100 feet above their actual target.

Felicity uploads a GPS spoof to disable the missile as Curtis points an IR receiver at it.

The odds of disabling all the nukes launched by Rubicon with the line-of-sight hack is 1 in 375 million.

When Felicity hacked the nuke aimed at Star City, she gained access to its on-board computer and cloned its hard drive remotely before running a back-trace to determine the source of the initial launch signal.

By inverting the horizons of the remaining 15,433 missiles, Felicity and Curtis are able to cause the missiles to explode in space.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Green Arrow jumps through a window, tuck and rolls and comes up his bow drawn and an arrow ready.)
Darkh: Okay, I know you don't live here anymore but those were nice windows.

Taiana: You are a murderer! You killed my brother! You are darkness.
Oliver: Yes I am!  But you don't have to be!

Oliver: We can't just lose all hope here.
Felicity: You have. I can see it in your eyes.
Oliver: (sighs) I just can't believe that I thought... that I'd be the one to unite this city while Damien Darhk was trying to kill it. That was arrogant. The same arrogance that made me feel like I could be The Green Arrow without descending into darkness. Bottom Line: it was foolish.
Felicity: You don't believe that-
Oliver: I didn't believe that. Until Laurel died.
Felicity: I thought you weren't blaming yourself for her death anymore?
Oliver: We made a decision to come back here. I tried to do things differently and for a time I did. And now I am left here to wonder... if I hadn't, would Laurel still be alive?
(Curtis limps into the room, clutching his side.)
Oliver: Curtis! You shouldn't be up.
Curtis: Tell me about it. Someone's got to provide a little optimism. Doesn't seem like anyone around here is in the head space to do it.
Oliver: You know we've lost the city?
Curtis: No. I know you're running out of time to get it back. Look, living in Star City requires a special kind of tenacity. A sane person wouldn't live here. It's a fact that Paul likes to remind me of weekly. We were this close to leaving Star City last October. After three terrorist attacks, we were done. But then - the night before we were going to start packing - The Green Arrow popped up on our TV. And he reminded me that this city is worth saving. And my home... that my home was worth fighting for. That guy gave me inspiration. He gave me hope. And if he could give me hope then, why can't he give it to others now?

(Oliver Queen addresses a crowd of rioting citizens.)
Oliver; Please! I know what you're feeling right now! I'm feeling it too! The sense of helplessness?! Of Hopelessness?! I don't know how we even begin to process what might happen to us right now! But there are a few things that I do know! I know that this city has been through tough times before and we have pulled through! We survived The Undertaking! We survived The Siege! We survived The Outbreak! And somehow, someway, we will survive this! A friend of mine told me that living in Star City takes a special kind of tenacity. But we do live here! Because this is our home! This! Is! Our! Home! It is our friend, our family, our lives!  And we will not - we will not - throw those precious gifts away by descending into chaos! We will look to each other for hope! We will cling to each other for strength! And if we do that, no matter what happens, we can all stand here united!

John: Oliver, you yourself said going after Darhk was a suicide mission.
Oliver: Well, John, I'm not gonna die tonight!

(Green Arrow enters the nexus room under Star City's city hall.)
Green Arrow: Darhk!
Darhk: (rolling his eyes) What does a guy have to do to end the world in peace?!

(Thea shoots the two HIVE Ghosts that were sneaking up on Merlyn)
Merlyn: Thanks. Unless you were aiming at me.
Thea: At this point, I honestly can't tell.

(Darhk has just brought an entire crowd to their knees with one magical growl.)
Darhk: Humanity is feckless! And I wanted to cleanse it of a millennium worth of rot it has been infected by and I will do it!
Green Arrow: (from behind Darhk, coming to his feet) No you won't!
(Darhk turns and smirks at Green Arrow.)
Darhk: Okay. Just for fun. How are you going to stop me?
Green Arrow: Because it won't just be me who's going to stop you!
(Darhk freezes as he hears the mob behind him starting to come to their feet, enraged and inspired by one man standing up to Darhk's power. Without a word, Green Arrow draws a shaft and lets it fly. It cuts Darhk's face.  He touches the blood with one finger and looks at it astonished.  He reaches out toward Green Arrow and nothing happens... save that Green Arrow's eyes glow gold as they did when Green Arrow last tapped into his sense of hope to repel Darhk's magic.)
Green Arrow: Not so easy without the magic, is it?!
Darhk: Oh, I don't need magic. I'm a former member of the League of Assassins. Or have you forggoten that?
Green Arrow: Remind me.
(The mob cheer as Green Arrow closes in on Darhk and the two begin to fight.)

(Quentin Lance helps Green Arrow up after he's shot in the chest with an arrow Darhk fired.)
Quentin: Now you know how it feels.
Green Arrow: Wait, I thought you and Donna-?
Quentin: Don't worry. She's safe. But I had to come back to stand with my city because this Oliver Queen guy gives a hell of a speech.
Green Arrow: (looking to Spartan and Lyla, who just walked up) You two were supposed to stay as back-up!
Spartan: I already lost one brother!

(Green Arrow grabs Darhk by the shirt-collar with one hand and holds an arrow in the other.)
Darhk: What are you going to do now, Oliver? Stop the posturing We both know you can't do it. You spared the life of the man who killed your own mother.
Green Arrow: You killed a friend of mine. You killed tens of thousands of innocent peopleWith Slade Wilson I had a choice. This time, I don't.
(Green Arrow stabs the arrow into Darhk's chest and lets him fall to the ground.)

Oliver: You okay?
John: Not really. I told Lyla the truth about Andy.
Oliver: What did she say?
John: She's a soldier. She understood. But I don't and I don't think I ever will.
Oliver: What are you going to do?
John: Take some time away from this team. Away from the city. Figure out where I went off track and how to get back on.
Oliver: John, I have never done this without you. You're the one who keeps me in line.
John: Oliver, I don't know if you've been watching lately, but.. it's been the other way around, man.

Amanda Waller: You saved a lot of lives.
Oliver: I took some, too.
Amanda Waller: Do you remember what I told you? That the only way out is through?
Oliver: Well, I'm not out, Amanda. I'm still filled with darkness.
Amanda Waller: This was never about expunging your darkness, Mr. Queen. That darkness will always be a part of you.
Oliver: Then what was the point?!
Amanda Waller: To show you that sometimes killing is the only path to justice.

Felicity: You okay?
Oliver: No. (sighs) It's Thea amd John.
Felicity: Them leaving has to be a blow.
Oliver: They're leaving because of their own personal darkness. I just can't help but think that maybe they were infected by mine.
Felicity: Maybe. Like you said, maybe you can't become a hero without succumbing to the darkness even a little bit? But you were able to defeat Darhk by giving the city its hope back.
Oliver: You're saying it's not black and white?
Felicity: I'm saying that there's a man who killed Darhk in cold blood. And that same man stood on top of a car and gave a city its hope back. What you're feeling isn't darkness. It's a schism. You're at war with two sides of yourself.


Baron Reiter has magical power enough to destroy a small airplane with a gesture.

Oliver and Taiana kill Baron Reiter together, with Taiana tapping his life force and Oliver throwing a knife into his back.

Diggle freezes up in the middle of the fight with The HIVE Ghosts, seeing his brother's face.

Lyla notices this, prompting him to confess that he didn't kill Andy Diggle in self defense.

Lyla doesn't care but Diggle does.

Oliver snaps Taiana's neck after she asks him to kill her before she becomes more of a monster than Reiter.

Taiana reminds Oliver of his promise in 418 to tell her parents what happened if she died.

Felicity reminds Cooper Seldon of how they wanted to save the world, seven years earlier, as seen in the flashbacks in 305.

Cooper Seldon is killed by Darhk after he refuses to continue working to keep Rubicon running.

Darhk refers to the events of 223 and Oliver's refusal to kill Slade Wilson.

Quentin Lance is officially let go from the CCPD and decides to leave Star City for a while with Donna Smoak.

Thea also decides to quit being Speedy for fear of losing too much of herself and being Malcolm Merlyn's daughter, based on her threatening to kill Darhk's daughter to save Ollie's life.

John also says he's going to go away for a while and figure out where he went off-track.

Oliver buries to Yao Fei, Robert Queen and Shado on Lian Yu.

Oliver uses the comm gear Amanda Waller gave him to radio ARGUS in order to rescue the rest of the prisoners on the island.

Oliver refuses Amanda Waller's offer of employment as an ARGUS agent or a ride back to the USA so that he can keep the promise he made to Taiana and go to Russia.

Thomas Kemp - the chair of the Star City council - informs Oliver Queen that they want to appoint him as an interim mayor until the next election in August 2016, based on his speech to the people of Star City during the rioting.  Oliver agrees to take the job.

As the episode closes, Quentin is seen leaving Star City by car with Donna Smoak, Thea is seen sitting on a couch in the apartment she shared with Laurel and John is seen packing a bag while wearing a dress military uniform, apparently having reenlisted.

The Fridge Factor

Felicity is dumbed-down to give Curtis Holt a chance to contribute - first by his having the idea to use a line-of-sight attack to disable the nuke approaching Star City and then by suggesting they invert the horizons of the missiles so they will explode in space.

The Bottom Line

Taken on its own, this is a solid episode with some great performances, wonderful action sequences and great writing. Taken in the context of the whole season, however, it's something of a disappointment. The whole point of Season Four was to make Arrow lighten up. and its hard to see how having everyone except Felicity leave the team in order to cope with their own personal issues fits into that theme... particularly since Oliver ultimately has to abandon his new-found optimism and promise not to kill in order to defeat Darhk once and for all. Still, the idea of Oliver falling to leave up to his ideals is par for the course in the comics, too. Unfortunately, having Oliver win in this fashion does make much of his conflict for this season seem completely pointless.

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